Project Detail
Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC) logo
Office of Autism Research Coordination (OARC) logo

Developmental characteristics of MRI diffusion tensor pathway changes in autism  

Autism is a lifelong debilitating developmental brain disorder characterized by impairments in social interaction and verbal/non-verbal communication. In a study of young adults with autism using brain imaging techniques (MRI diffusion tensor tracking (DTT)), researchers previously observed changes in white matter pathways involved in the recognition of faces and facial emotions (critical aspects of social interaction and non-verbal communication often affected in autism). To determine whether such changes are a fundamental abnormality that occurs early in infant development, DTT and new diffusion-sensitive MRI methods will be used to: 1) test for these pathway changes in infants at 20 high-risk for autism compared to 20 infants at low risk (where risk is based on the existence of an affected sibling), and 2) test for similar changes in language pathways in high-risk versus low-risk infants. Long-term goals of this research are to 1) provide a better understanding of the biological causes of autism, 2) improve the early diagnosis, screening, and treatment of autism, and 3) provide measures (biomarkers) of very early brain changes in autism that can be used to study the time relation between genetic, immunological, and environmental events (e.g., immunization) and the onset of measurable brain changes. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $252,636.00
Current Award Period 2010-2012
Project Number 1R21MH090494-01
Principal Investigator Conturo, Thomas
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 1: When Should I Be Concerned? (Diagnosis)
Subcategory Early Signs and Biomarkers
Strategic Plan Objective Green dot: Objective has greater than or equal to the recommended funding. 1LA. Identify behavioral and biological markers that separately, or in combination, accurately identify, before age 2, one or more subtypes of children at risk for developing ASD, and evaluate whether these risk markers or profiles can improve early identification through heightened developmental monitoring and screening by 2014. IACC Recommended Budget: $33,300,000 over 5 years.
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution Washington University
State/Country Missouri
Web Link 1 Developmental characteristics of MRI diffusion tensor pathway changes in autism (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
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